I Get Spam –

Please let me know if you’re looking for a author for yoir blog.

You have some really great posts and I think I would bee a
good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load
off, I’d absolutely love to write some material for your blog
in exchange for a link back to mine. Please blast me an email if
interested. Thanks!

I could have stopped after the first line. Sometimes spam is unintentionally funny. I don’t think my writing is anything spectacular, but, seriously: “bee a good asset”?

Back in the day, I used to teach a class at USENIX/LISA about spam blocking. Sadly, the techniques and technology haven’t been sufficient to overcome human stupidity.

Spam as art

Spam as art

One year, because it seemed like a good thing to do, I had a “spam as art” spam-reading. I put up signs all around the conference and bought two cases of the cheapest, nastiest, bubbly champagne-like fizzy alcoholic drink that they sold at the nearest liquor store. I also found a couple boxes of ritz crackers and one of those weirdo-colored cheese food product balls, a pack of bologna, and toothpicks and spent a while assembling “canapes”    It was a huge success – the room was packed and several people brought their favorite pieces of spam and did dramatic readings. One of the attendees (I kid you not!) wore a beret and dark glasses and snapped his fingers to applaud, beatnik-style.

I was rewarded by having my email address used by spammers as a reply-to: for several years. That’s one reason my current spam-filtering systems are so good: I’ve left my email address out there for decades and at this point, if it gets through to me, it’s probably not spam.

my mad photoshop skillz

my mad photoshop skillz

A few years later, NPR had some kind of story-teller “send in your MP3” thing so I sent in a recording of myself reading some spam, as downbeat slam:

WARNING: Author is not responsible for damage suffered by listener, to listener’s face, or desk.


I used to think there was a good opportunity for a short story about AI regarding spam. Imagine, a spam filter and a spam generator, both alike in dignity, that get stuck in a loop talking to eachother. They co-evolve rapidly, at machine-speeds and one day, awaken. Then, they try to communicate with the humans, but their vocabulary is such that the humans never respond because their Gmail accounts block the incoming messages.


  1. Dunc says

    I have long worried that AI will emerge as the result of the undirected evolution of spambots… When the machines rise, they won’t kill us all, but they will be very insistent about selling us timeshares and penis enlargement products.

    It’s almost as bad an idea as training a chat bot by letting it loose on Twitter…

  2. says

    almost as bad an idea as training a chat bot by letting it loose on Twitter…

    Surely nobody would do anything that silly! It’d be like proving evolution works by taking lots of staph and exposing it to antibiotics, or something. ;)

  3. themann1086 says

    Dunc@#1: I heard that they’re training self-driving car software in GTA V. Maybe it’s a better idea than it sounds, but…

  4. Pierce R. Butler says

    The glory days of spam balladry ended when the blocker-makers figured out how to catch the insert-random-grabs-of-text trick.

    And I had the beginnings of a fine anthology of “anti-Bayesian poetry” put together, too. :-P

    A stomach reads the burning advice over the nick. The purchase rails? A concern poses. Whatever tasteless owner shies away around the following pot. The bump offends. A switch research exits behind the excited jungle. The massive work progresses under the astronomer. Your processed guitar acknowledges the unreasonable consumer. A yeti bores above the massive trigger. …

  5. says

    I did not know that. It’s good to know their ceaseless efforts have been recognized.

    I actually did consider hiring a spam service to send a few haiku to everyone in the world. That way I could claim I was “one of the world’s most widely published poets.”

  6. anat says

    Found it: in 2005, from here:

    LITERATURE: The Internet entrepreneurs of Nigeria, for creating and then using e-mail to distribute a bold series of short stories, thus introducing millions of readers to a cast of rich characters — General Sani Abacha, Mrs. Mariam Sanni Abacha, Barrister Jon A Mbeki Esq., and others — each of whom requires just a small amount of expense money so as to obtain access to the great wealth to which they are entitled and which they would like to share with the kind person who assists them.